Airborne uranium contamination - As revealed through elemental and isotopic analysis of tree bark

D. Bellis, R. Ma, N. Bramall, C. W. McLeod*, N. Chapman, K. Satake

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A new strategy for characterisation of airborne uranium contamination based on ICP mass spectrometric analysis of tree bark is described. The uranium content of tree barks (50 samples) obtained from diverse locations (remote, rural, industrial) varied over almost four orders of magnitude (0.001-8.3 μg/g U) with maximum concentrations recorded in the vicinity of a nuclear fuel fabrication plant (0.70-8.3 μg/g U). Elevated concentrations were also observed near a coal-fired power station (0.25-0.38 μg/g U). Isotopic analysis revealed significant deviation from the natural uranium isotope ratio (235U/238U, 0.00725) at four nuclear installations (235U/238U, 0.0055-0.0097). These findings indicate that tree bark serves as an effective biomonitor for uranium and, with isotopic analysis, discrimination between nuclear and non-nuclear emissions is realised.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-387
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Volume114
Issue number3
Early online date11 Jul 2001
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2001
Externally publishedYes

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